10 January 2006

Odeon Theatre Then, Odeon Tower Now

I am sure many people of my generation remember fondly the Odeon Theatre at 331 North Bridge Road. Some of us (not me) might have had their first dates there, not necessarily with our spouses. It was an ordinary theatre which was a well-known landmark in that area. It was the place where families and courting couples spent many hours watching movies like The Ten Commandments and other war movies. That is until the building was demolished in the 1970s, I think.

Today, a spanking new building stands in its place - the Odeon Tower:

The ground floor entrance to the tower is just as spectacular:

And so is the view from one of the upper floors:

In fact, for a photo buff like me, there is no lack of interesting subjects in the building. Here's a worm-eye view of a spiral staircase leading to a designer furniture shop on the first floor and a pub on a higher floor which I think might have closed down:

Last week (3 - 6 Jan 06), I was at Odeon Tower to attend an IT course. I recently bought a new Samsung L50 camera from a fellow Renault car club forum member for $270. I considered it a very good buy since its market value was at least $415. In fact, it was such good value that the seller made me promise not to resell it for a profit.

As you can see, I have faithfully kept my promise - these photos were taken with the new camera. They come with date-time stamps, just like in Chun See's photos. So Philip (camera seller's name), if you are reading this, I've kept my promise so far and therefore you cannot shoot me... just yet.

Back to my story on Odeon Theatre and Odeon Tower. Old foodies would know that there used to be a coffeeshop near Odeon Theatre which served very delicious Hainanese beef noodles and it was normal to have to wait more than half an hour for it:

So naturally, when it was lunchtime, I went hunting for similarly delicious food. I passed by the restaurant which you see on the left of the entrance photo above. The restaurant served an unbelievable $3 lunch, including a small dian xin (点心) like lao po bing (老婆并) free. Tea and coffee prices were only at 70 cts a cuppa with no 'plus-plus-plus' too (meaning no GST, service charge, tea and towel charge). And they served beef stew rice which was yummy. Needless to say, even though fully aware that beef is cholesterol-laden, I had this dish for two days in a row. Only when Odeon Theatre was still around could one find restaurant food at such a bargain. So what's the catch? One had to lunch al fresco at one of the four tables you see on the right of the photo. The table umbrella would be opened for you but it was of little use in foul weather. Another catch - the fish porridge which my colleague ordered took more than half an hour to come and he left without eating it. Some things never change.

I must say the IT course brought back EAT memories for me and I had great company for lunch too. By the way (I don't mean to give you any assignment since school has started) does anyone know where the beef noodles of yore has moved to, that is if it is still operating?


fr said...

Sure, I remember Odeon Theatre well although I seldom went there to see movies. My favourite was another landmark opposite the Odeon - Jubilee Cinema. This cinema used to screen black-and-white cantonese movies.

Another cinema I remember well is Roxy Cinema in Katong. It was near my secondary school - Tanjong Katong Secondary. After school, could still make it for the 1.30 show.

Lam Chun See said...

What a letdown you are Victor! When I saw the picture of the Hainanese beef noodle and the title of your article, I thot you would be telling us where the stall has moved to. Anyway, it looks like we have yet another thing is common.

I think your blog about cinemas of old is sure to bring up a lot of memories for people of our generation. Movie-watching was a major past-time for us. Sometimes for the block busters, you even have to buy black market tickets. Sometimes we have to queue up for tickets. I get very fed-up with the 'good hearted people' who are infront of us in the queue and allow others to 'topang'; end up we have wait longer and get the lousy seats. I am sure you know what it was like to sit in the front row of Rex or Cathay.

Speaking of Rex, do you guys remember the movie Earthquake, starring Charleton Heston? They made a big hooha about the 'sensurround' effect where you can actually feel your chair vibrate during the earthquake scene.

One of my most memorable movies was The Chinese Boxer starring Wang Yu which I saw with my brother at Capitol. The action was really something wasn't it?

Yes - those were the days.

Victor said...

Yes Frannxis, I vaguely remember Jubilee theatre just opposite Odeon. I think it had 2 grey gateway-like entrances and some carvings of lion heads, if I am not wrong. Then there was Marlboro theatre in Beach Road where many satay sellers hawked their food by the roadside am I right? I was just a little kid of maybe 5 year-old when my parents brought me there.

Yes, the black-market ticket sellers or touts were rampant. (Thanks to Chun See for pointing this out.) They sold tickets to popular shows at a premium to their original price, like double the price. Most of the time, the tickets to the shows had been sold out or there were only lousy seats left so people had no choice but to buy from the touts. That was the way they earned a living. Must have been quite tough too.

Chun See, I must confess that like you, I don't know the answers to some of the questions I pose. But knowing that beef noodles is one of your favourite dish, I can offer an equally good alternative - there is a famous Hainanese beef noodle stall in a coffeeshop at Blk 203 Hougang St 21. Have you eaten there before? There are always at least 10 customers waiting in the queue as it's 'self-service'. Average waiting time is a respectable half an hour too. Die die must try. Yummilicious.

Although I roughly have an idea of how you look like from your blog photos, I am still looking forward to meet you in person at the roundtable.

Chris Sim said...

To all the uncles, blame it on my relative youth (sorry if that sounds so politically incorrect, LOL), but my memory of the Odean Theatre is quite hazy. I remember the Lido Theatre where my late uncle brought us kids watch the Towering Inferno, starring Paul Newman, and vaguely remember the Rex Theatre. But I can recall better cinemas that showed mostly Chinese films. The majestic theatre was one. Then there was the Oriental and the one just across Maxwell Market that's been converted in to a church. I think it's called 金华戏院。

Lam Chun See said...

Hougang is too far for me, plus not familiar with the area. Anyway, 1/2 hour wait will certainly ruin my appetite. But I discover another very good place for Hainanese Beef Noodle. It is at a corner coffee shop along McPherson Rd next to the Jackson Centre.

Lam Chun See said...

Anyone remember enough about the Drive-in Cinema at Jurong to put up a blog. Game for another assignment, Victor? I saw Bruce Lee's The Big Boss there.

fr said...

I took the Hainanese beef noodles for lunch today at the Macpherson Road coffeeshop mentioned by Chun See. I think it is only satisfactory. The Odean one is better.

If you walk about 50m down Tai Thong Crescent you can see another coffeeshop at the road junction. The attraction here is (Hoe Nam) Prawn Mee. It looks good.

Walking round the place I found another 3 coffeeshops and a few other eateries apart from Jackson's foodcourt. Alot of choice it seems.

Victor said...

Thanks for the eating tips, Chun See and Frannxis, but no thanks for the assignment. However, I don't mind doing a 'quickie' (pardon the pun, if any) here just to stop you from crying, Chun See.

I did go to the Jurong drive-in once in the early 80s in my old rusty but trusty jalopy. That was with my old girlfriend. (When you are at my age, you can use the word 'old' to describe everything).

She was also my 1st (please read properly hor, it is NOT 'last') serious girlfriend, so called 'my 1st love'. (My wife better not read this, otherwise I might become her last husband. :p)

For first-timers, finding the cinema was half the fun. As for the other half, you'll soon find out. Needless to say, it was an open-air cinema. The weather was fine that night and I remember manually winding down the window at the passenger side to hook on the wired box speaker. In those days, power windows had not been invented yet and I think there was also no stereo sound, not to mention DTS or Dolby 5.1 channels. Therefore, a single speaker was more than sufficient. My car also had no air-conditioning, so the open windows let in some fresh air into the car. It was just as well, otherwise the next day's newspaper headlines might have read 'Couple found dead at drive-in cinema. CO poisoning suspected'.

In any case, nobody paid any attention to the movie dialogue nor the movie itself. Everyone (including the two in my car) were busy smooching in the backseat. Ok I better stop here, if not my post will be too ham sup to qualify for the 13-PG rating which Heritage SG (Project M) has imposed, haha.

Anonymous said...

hi victor, how r u getting on? i read your posts regarding the very "good" service rendered by singnet and i'm also facing similar problems like u! am thinking of switching to maxonline instead. if you're free, read my post 25th jan post! take care.

Anonymous said...

hey victor, thx for your msg..i really appreciate it.

apparently, singnet replied my email, they said they DO contact customers both by email & tel. then how come i didnt receive it? did they just simply called once, nobody answer then they just forget it? but contrary to what their customer service said (i called 1610 that day), they said they normally don't call up customers and admitted they received quite alot of feedback abt this & will look into it. contradicting hor?

i'm still thinking if i shd recontract or sign up wif maxonline. the thing is, i went to starhub's website n don't see any promotion of free pc or vouchers thingy (thats what i prefer). instead the current promo is either 'FREE Linksys Wireless-G Cable Gateway and more worth over $713' or 'FREE Wireless Home Networking Bundle worth up to $825 with MaxOnline' which doesnt really appeal to me. then theres this free digital voice which is only until 2007. what happens thereafter? whether or not they'll continue or charge us..we still won't know. coz if they start charging us, then no point signing up now. moreover for maxonline 2000, the upload speed is up to 256K whereas singnet 1500's upload speed is up to 350K. and maxonline is $0.80 more expensive. but the thing i cant wait anymore. gotta make up my mind ASAP or i'll be billed with non-promo price for my broadband since my contract is over. apparently singnet's recontract's freebies are much more attractive...

juz need a little favor, u mind helping me see if it is indeed there are no free pcs or vouchers that sort of promo just in case i missed out somewhere? thx & sorry for the trouble :p


Victor said...

Yes, Singnet sent the upgrade notification to my Singnet e-mail account which was given to me during my first sign-up for a 56K dial-up account. E-mail is not reliable so they have the benefit of the doubt when they claim that they did send out a notification.

I visited Starhub's website too and I am sorry that you seem to be right, Evan. The Singnet and Starhub promotions of giving away 'free' notebooks and PCs might have ended (on 31 Dec 05?). Perhaps they ended early because 'stocks ran out due to overwhelming demand'. (Isn't it funny that at other times some other retailers, not Singnet and Starhub, would extend a promotion because of the very same reason, i.e. 'overwhelming demand'.) You can confirm this by calling Singnet's hotline at 1610 and Starhub at 1633.

It is anybody's guess when these 2 ISPs will offer similar promotion packages again. The staff manning the hotlines may not be able to tell you either. Therefore, it looks like you will either have to hold out till the next promotion which heaven knows when; continue with Singtel and pay the revised non-discounted rates; or re-contract with either Singtel or Starhub and get the freebies which you don't really fancy. Ya, it is a difficult choice but only you can make the best decision.

I take this opportunity to wish everyone 'A Very Happy and Prosperous CNY'.